Robert John Wagner Jr. is an American actor of stage, screen, and television, best known for starring in the television shows "It Takes a Thief," "Switch" and "Hart to Hart." His film career includes the movies "A Kiss Before Dying," "The Pink Panther," "Harper" and "The Towering Inferno" among countless others.
Wagner was born February 10, 1930 in Detroit, Michigan with German and Norwegian ancestry. A graduate of Santa Monica High School in 1949, his career has spanned over four decades. He made his film debut in The Happy Years (1950) and was soon under contract to 20th Century-Fox, where he gained attention with a small but showy part as a shell-shocked soldier in With a Song in My Heart (1952), which led to starring roles in a series of films, including Stars and Stripes Forever (1952) with Clifton Webb, Titanic (1953), Beneath the 12-Mile Reef (1953), Prince Valiant (1954), and White Feather (1955) with Debra Paget and Jeffrey Hunter with whom he starred with in The True Story of Jesse James (1957). Following his Fox contract, Wagner moved to Europe.
On December 28, 1957, Wagner married 19-year-old actress Natalie Wood, later separating in June 1961 and divorcing on April 27, 1962. On his return to the States, Wagner signed with Columbia Pictures and made Sail a Crooked Ship (1961) with Ernie Kovacs and The War Lover (1962) with Steve McQueen. He starred in several movies in Europe, including The Condemned of Altona (1962), The Longest Day (1962) and The Pink Panther (1963) with David Niven and Peter Sellers. He signed with Universal Studios in 1966, appearing in How I Spent My Summer Vacation (1966) and Banning (1967). Known as a top leading man in Hollywood, he reportedly had affairs with numerous actresses, including Wagner Yvonne De Carlo, Joan Crawford, Elizabeth Taylor, Anita Ekberg, Shirley Anne Field, Lori Nelson and Joan Collins. He had a four-year romantic relationship with Barbara Stanwyck after they acted together in the movie Titanic (1953) despite their age difference. Wagner remarried again actress Marion Marshall on July 22, 1963, in the Bronx Courthouse and had a daughter, Katie Wagner, on May 11, 1964. They divorced on October 14, 1971 after eight years of marriage.
In 1967, Lew Wasserman convinced Wagner to turn to television, starring "It Takes a Thief" with Fred Astaire playing his father. Wagner's friend and agent, Albert Broccoli, suggested him to play James Bond, but he turned it down.
In 1971, Wagner was engaged to Tina Sinatra but instead reconnected with Natalie Wood in early 1972 and re-married her on July 16, 1972 after a six-month courtship. Their only child together, Courtney Wagner, was born on March 9, 1974. Wood eventually drowned in a fall from her yacht on November 29, 1981 while it was moored near Catalina Island. Wagner subsequently became the legal guardian of Wood's daughter, Natasha Gregson. The incident has since become notorious for unanswered questions in her death, making Wagner estranged from his former sister-in-law, Lana Wood.
In 1972, Wagner produced and cast himself opposite Bette Davis in Madame Sin (1972), which was released in foreign markets as a feature film. That same year, Wagner was reunited with McQueen, Paul Newman and Faye Dunaway in the disaster film, The Towering Inferno (1972).
By the mid-1970s, Wagner starred in the TV show "Switch" and appeared with Natalie Wood and Laurence Olivier in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" in England. His most memorable series was "Hart to Hart," which co-starred Stefanie Powers and ran from 1979 to 1984. In 1982, Wagner met actress Jill St. John; they married on May 26, 1990. His film career received a revival after his role as Dr. Evil's henchman Number 2 in the Austin Powers film series starring Mike Myers, appearing in all three films: Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997), Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999) and Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002). His recent TV appearances have included roles in the BBC/AMC series "Hustle," "Two and a Half Men" and "NCIS."
On September 21, 2006, Wagner became a first-time grandfather when Katie Wagner, his daughter with Marion Marshall, gave birth to her son, Riley John Wagner-Lewis. His autobiography, Pieces of My Heart: A Life, written with author Scott Eyman, was published on September 23, 2008.